The FIA won’t make any changes to the kerbs at the Red Bull Ring, despite concerns about the damage caused to several cars.
Nico Rosberg, Dany Kvyat and Sergio Perez suffered rear suspension failures after contact with kerbs, while Max Verstappen had a front suspension breakage when he ran wide on Friday.
Kvyat, Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe and GPDA chairman Alex Wurz all expressed an interest in viewing the kerbs up close, and they joined Charlie Whiting on a track inspection at the end of Saturday’s action.
The FIA race director duly explained the rationale behind the kerb design, which is used at many other venues, and has been extensively proven, and explained why there won’t be any changes.
One theory is that at this particular track drivers are simply able to use more of the kerbs, and that the extra time spent on them caused problems for some cars.
The FIA viewpoint is that teams with concerns should ensure that their drivers use the kerbs less.
After qualifying Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had suggested that the FIA should react and make changes.
“I don’t know what the FIA is going to decide,” said Wolff. “Whether they are going to take those sausage kerbs away, or whether they are going to modify some of the red kerbs, scratch them, or fill them with concrete. I don’t know. But we have seen a couple of failures on various cars with the various suspension design, and it still failed, I think there needs to be a reaction.
“There is some discussion happening. We discussed it during the session that we need to react quickly, with Charlie, and trigger some reaction. But that is not an easy one.”
Wolff stressed that Rosberg’s failure was caused by the red kerbs at the end of the track, and not the yellow sausage kerbs which are further off line, and which are supposed to act as a deterrent.
“It is a concern. The strange thing is at the beginning it seemed we had spikes of loads. But once we analysed the data there was not much load on the suspension. So it is some kind of strange frequency or oscillation on the tyre that makes the suspension break. And we don’t know what it is. It looks like it’s the red kerbs, which are new, which triggers that.”
Before qualifying Mercedes reinforced its rear wishbones with extra carbon layers. Other teams with concerns will not be able to make such a change without dropping out of parc ferme.
“We strengthened the suspension. Whether it’s the ultimate cure, I doubt it. I think with the parc ferme rules we are probably on the better side because we strengthened them already.”
Meanwhile Rosberg admitted that he is still has concerned about the kerbs heading into the race.
“The yellow kerbs, you’re not supposed to go there, that’s one thing,” he said. “People who do, break the car, that’s for sure. But what would the alternative be? I don’t know. The bad one was my incident, because I was in the really normal, shallow kerb, the first one, just driving out of the corner, and the thing failed. That’s the bigger worry which needs understanding, I think.
“It’s a vibration, a very unusual never seen before vibration, which comes when you’re on the throttle when you’re on that kerb. So that’s a worry, because it’s not something that we’ve planned for building the car, so not straightforward. They reinforced our car before qualifying, in those fragile areas.”
3 responses to “FIA not making changes to Red Bull Ring kerbs”
I think as viewers we are all content to see cars getting broken and retiring if a driver makes a mistake so I mainly agree with Whiting’s decision. My only reservation was how close Kvyat was to making a really nasty contact with the pit entry barrier so I wonder if something will be done with the protection there.
Broken and retiring cars is one thing, but there is no way to predict the outcome of one massive failure on the driver or possibly another car and driver.
There should always be a risk/reward as part of the racing formula, but when one of the risks are deliberate “sausage” kerbs, I’d have to say they got it wrong.
It seems clear that the combination of the curbs and speed set up a vibration that broke the suspension.